Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is a governmental program, designed to help businesses in the Atlantic Canada region experience greater financial growth and competitiveness within their industries. It encourages companies to pursue more productivity and innovation and work with various communities to diversify local economics. Discover more about this agency and how your business can receive support.
What Does ACOA Do?
One of seven local development agencies in Canada, ACOA offers financial and technical support to businesses across the Atlantic region. Financial assistance comprises loans, equity financing, and loan guarantees, while technical guidance includes counselling, focused training, and entrepreneurship development.
The agency also acts as a hub of information entrepreneurs need to run successful businesses, such as import and export guidelines, government regulations, and reputable market research. You can learn more about what ACOA offers on its Business Information Services page.
Different Funding Programs of the ACOA
ACOA provides support through five major grant funding programs. Each opportunity is geared toward specific businesses and may feature different eligibility requirements. Consider the following programs to determine which can suit your funding needs:
Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF)
The main objective of the AIF is to help researchers and innovative companies create new products and services to put on the market. It also enables these organizations to adopt new technology to pursue market opportunities. Large-scale initiatives featuring a research and development (R&D) aspect and the potential for commercialization qualify for funding through this program.
Business Development Program (BDP)
Support from the BDP enables entrepreneurs to start, modernize, and expand their companies in Atlantic Canada. Besides enterprises, this program also provides funding to non-profit organizations and existing businesses for scaling up. Entrepreneurs can attain up to 50% of the capital they need to launch their start-ups through BDP.
Community Futures partners with over 40 Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) in Atlantic Canada to produce more private-sector jobs for people in rural neighborhoods. Besides financial assistance, CBDCs also deliver technical support, business advice, and entrepreneurship training.
Innovative Communities Fund (ICF)
ICF focuses on projects that will generate long-term employment and lead to more robust economies in Atlantic Canada communities. Assistance from ICF can boost infrastructure in rural areas, create prosperous industry sectors, and support efforts from non-profit organizations and Indigenous populations in official language minority communities (OLMCs).
Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI)
The REGI program assists businesses and non-profit organizations in creating an active and inclusive economy. It offers two options for funding—Business Scale-up and Productivity (companies) and Regional Innovation Ecosystems (non-profits).
In response to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the ACOA also created special COVID-19 programs. The following funds help businesses and organizations bounce back stronger from the pandemic:
- Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative
- Canada Community Revitalization Fund
- Jobs and Growth Fund
- Tourism Relief Fund
- ACOA Initiatives
In addition to these funding programs, ACOA also offers a host of initiatives for organizations in Atlantic Canada. These programs may be aimed at a specific activity, like beautifying cities and neighborhoods, or select groups, such as BIPOC or women business owners. The initiatives include:
- Atlantic Canada Industrial and Technology Benefits Policy
- Atlantic Growth Strategy
- Black Entrepreneurship Program
- Canada Digital Adoption Program
- Canadian Coal Transition Initiative
- Economic Development Initiative
- International Trade and Investment
- Rediscover Main Streets
- Women Entrepreneurship Strategy
Who Can Benefit from ACOA Funding?
With multiple funding streams, numerous organizations can obtain financial assistance from ACOA, including for-profit businesses, small to medium-sized enterprises, provincial Crown corporations, post-secondary academic institutions, and non-government research groups. Some types of organizations that may gain from ACOA support include:
- Entrepreneurs looking to initiate a business
- Business owners interested in seeing more growth
- Companies wanting to acquire new talent
- Businesses wishing to tap into new markets
- Non-profit groups
ACOA Support Financing with Easly
Funding from ACOA can be fundamental for pursuing new projects at your business, but this financial assistance is only beneficial if you have adequate access to it. At Easly, we finance Government receivables, such as grants and tax credit refunds, to accelerate the funding timeline for deserving Canadian organizations. Although the main receivable we finance is the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit refund, we also finance numerous federal and provincial government grants.
Once your business qualifies for grant funding, it can access those funds sooner with Easly Advances. You will receive non-dilutive and on-demand funding through our Capital-as-a-Service platform. While our financing solutions cannot be the only capital source for your company, they will provide the ideal complement to your existing capital mix.
Contact us today to learn more about Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and grant financing.